Guest Blogger

Best Place to Work? Not if you don't offer benefits to LGBT partners. (Even if you're married!)

Filed By Guest Blogger | January 29, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: domestic partnership, FedEx, HRC Corporate Equality Index, marriage, relationship recognition, transgender, workplace protections

Editor's Note: Guest blogger Daryl Herrschaft has overseen the Workplace Project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation since 1998. He monitors and evaluates corporate policies surrounding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors.

Thumbnail image for Daryl Herrschaft.jpgIn its February 2 issue, Fortune magazine unveils its "100 Best Companies to Work For 2009." The annual list is created from metrics that look at benefits, work-life and diversity--among other categories. The recognition it bestows is highly sought after by corporate recruiters. Unfortunately, Fortune did not get the facts straight on the company it awarded with the number 90 slot on this year's list: FedEx.

FedEx's Fortune profile
contains the following under the "diversity" section:

"Has nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation? Yes; Offers domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples? Yes."

The first part is true, the company does include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy; however, the policy doesn't include gender identity.

As for domestic partner benefits? No.

FedEx has never offered domestic partner benefits firm-wide. The only unit of the company that provides benefits to gay employees' families is FedEx Office, formerly known as Kinko's.


Kinko's was already providing domestic partner benefits when FedEx acquired it in 2004. FedEx actually refused to extend the benefits to its other units. The fact that FedEx did not flat out cancel the benefits at Kinko's is certainly no consolation to its thousands of other employees.

But, that's not all.

FedEx has actively resisted providing benefits to gay families, even in states where gay people can marry. In this letter to a legally married employee (PDF) in Massachusetts, FedEx actually invokes the Defense of Marriage Act to justify why it won't provide benefits to its LGBT employees' families in Massachusetts! FedEx's tortured legal argument goes something like this:

We have a federally regulated health insurance plan and since the federal government defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman we are free to ignore your marriage in the provision of employee benefits.

Legally accurate? Yes. Best Place to Work? No.

And, before the folks at Fortune get too busy handing out the kudos, let's not forget that FedEx scored only a 55 on HRC's Corporate Equality Index.

Cross-posted at HRC Back Story.

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The good news is that UPS is a friendly company. The bad news is that they are expected to layoff thousands due to poor quarterly financial performace. The other frieght carrier, DHL laid off 10,000 as reported on last weeks 60 Minutes. The economy is getting worse and the most workers can ask for at this juncture from FedEx is full employment. Entitlements come later when a company is profitable.

GLBT Realist | January 29, 2009 2:21 PM

Yes, but how many of those "ratings" have to do with how much a corporation gives Fortune and HRC in corporate "sponsorships" ???

Ironic Mr. Herrshaft that you never appear to interview employees of these companies to see what the REAL corporate culture is like before the ratings are given (many companies of which do not practice what they lead you to believe on paper). Oops, I'm sorry, it would jeopardize the "sponsorship" relationships involved if everyone knew the real truth.......... and GOD FORBID offend those "activists" /"consultants" who aggressively protect these companies who don't practice what they preach !!! Sorry, forgot again that there are corporate "perks" involved making it a win/win for all.......

And last but not least, how about telling everyone how HRC gives "one year advance notice of changes" to some company executives concerning the CEI index so that they will always ensure a 100% rating year after year. Like obtaining a copy of the exam before exam day...... Oops, forgot again, the corporation is a platinum "sponsor" of HRC whose asses you all kiss. And what another coincidence, the sales person for that company also sits on the Business Advisory Council.............How convenient

So Mr. Herrshaft, a very cunning and influential "activist" may have had something to do with your being invited to post your report here, but perhaps its high time that you all on this "workplace project" stop appearing to cover-up the truth of what really goes on at corporations and kissing corporate executive asses to get your day of fame in the GLBT media and at Black Tie, because those of us who know what is going on behind the scenes knows that these ratings are one big SHAM to make companies look good while allowing you all to climb the golden ladder of corporate and celebrity fame..

Thank you for your time........

Oh, my.

I do think that the CEI would benefit from some Princeton Review style methodology - use anonymous interviews with LGBT people who really work there, not as the entire rating system, but as an important factor. There is a space between stated policy and practice, as many people have found out from these rating systems.

What does a CEI rating of 100 tell us?

That employees sitting in the board room or accounting department of a corporation might have a decent work environment with full benefits.

But for employees and communities that are daily being fucked over by these global corporations -- through environmental devastation, partnerships with the prison industrial complex, racist promotion practices, human rights violations, use of sweatshop labor, union-busting tactics, etc -- the CEI doesn't say anything.

And who are these people? Poor and working class folks, people of color, undocumented immigrants, rural and indigenous people, womyn of all genders -- basically anyone who exists in or outside the margins of race, class, citizenship, and/or gender privilege.

Very telling...